Garlic Parmesan Cream Sauce

When I was a single girl, living in a single world, I did my grocery shopping whenever I needed to. If I felt like cooking I’d pick up necessities on my way home from work because if I did weekly shopping then things went to waste (you know, because of those nights when you’re like, hmm this chocolate cake and red wine looks like dinner to me). But now that I am living with a S.O. (that’s significant other for you laypeople) we do our grocery shopping once a week. Not only does that mean that I have to plan nightly meals for a whole week, but it means that when single-Lauren would’ve eaten red wine and cake because she lacked the energy to grocery shop, S.O.’ed-Lauren tries to make due with what’s in the cupboard.

This is a sauce that you can put on pasta, pour over roasted vegetables, or even use as a pizza sauce beneath toppings like prosciutto or zucchini, and it’s a sauce that can be made with things you probably already have in your cupboard. As long as you’re a nice Italian girl, that is.

On the menu:
Garlic parmesan cream sauce
Serves 2

3 medium sized cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp flour
1 cup milk (I used 1%)
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 tsp dried basil (or 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped)

In a small sauce pan over low heat, melt the butter. Add garlic and saute for 2 – 3 minutes or until aromatic. Add the flour and stir into a paste. Add milk and cream and cook for around 5 – 6 minutes, until the mixture starts to thicken. Add the parmesan cheese and the basil and cook until desired thickness, around 5 – 6 more minutes. Toss with pasta and serve.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cooking, Recipes

Cherry Vanilla Waffles

I feel I have to start off with an apology for this sad picture. These waffles do not look very appetizing, but lately I’ve had this food-blogger-problem where I eat everything before I photograph it. And honestly, who wants to read a post about food if they can’t see what it looks like first? I know this, friends, because I am of the same ilk. So while I missed out on sharing a zucchini, sun dried tomato, lemon ravioli, and a skillet lasagna, I couldn’t miss out on sharing this one, too.

I used cherries in this recipe because I found them at a little bodega for $1.25 a pound (A DOLLAR TWENTY FIVE A POUND! Thank you, Queens!) and had a surplus. But you could use any ripe, sweet berry.

On the menu:
Cherry vanilla waffles
Makes 2 full sized Belgian waffles

NOTE: You will need a waffle iron for this! I have no idea how you’d do it without one. Sorry Charlie.

1 1/3 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
8 Tbsp egg whites*
1/2 cup butter (1 stick) melted
1 3/4 cups milk
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup cherries, pitted and quartered

Preheat your waffle iron.

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together. Add melted butter, vanilla, and milk and blend until combined. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixture just until stiff peaks form. Fold egg whites into the batter just until incorporated. Add cherries and stir until evenly distributed in the batter.

Pour 2 full cups of batter onto the griddle, adding a bit of extra just so the batter reaches the far corners of the iron. Cook each waffle according to your iron’s specifications. Top with butter and maple syrup, or lemon curd, or powdered sugar, or just eat them straight off the griddle. Not that I would do that. Just saying.

*Note: the original recipe that I based this on (from Food.com) calls for 2 eggs, separated. I think using all egg whites gives the waffles a lighter texture and I usually have a carton of egg whites in my fridge. If you do want to use 2 eggs, just separate the egg and yolk, add the yolk into the dry ingredients during Step 1, and follow the rest of the directions as written regarding the egg whites. Still easy and still delicious!

Leave a comment

Filed under Cooking, Recipes

Relax and Un-wined


A few months ago a friend of mine asked if I’d like to go with her and two of our other friends on a wine and bike tour out on Long Island. I asked one question: do I have to know how to bike? Now, don’t get me wrong: I know how to “bike”. But as my brother likes to (lovingly) recall, I walked my bike down our 10-degree-inclined driveway until I was 16 years old because the hill was too “steep” to ride down and I was scared to fall off. Not that falling off would’ve been so bad. I did plenty of that, too. Somewhere in our family archives are Mother’s Day pictures of Little Lauren Four Eyes with a massively scraped up chin and forehead from an earlier neighborhood debacle between her and the pavement. And somewhere else in those family archives are family vacation pictures that are missing Little Lauren Pre-Teen Gangly Legs because she took a tumble down a Jamaican roadway and had to ride for most of the tour in a van with a kindly tour guide who offered her a sample of some of the local greenery IF you know what I mean.

Needless to say I’m not super adept on 2 wheels. But my friend reminded me that if they were going to be serving alcohol on this trip, it would most likely be easy enough that even the drunkest amateur would make it through unscathed.

So off we went last Saturday, pop music blaring out of our little green ZipCar rental, on our way out to the North Fork of Long Island to enjoy a hot, sunny afternoon with North Fork Bike Tours. We showed up a bit early and stopped in for a cold beer and some nachos at a townie bar where they were having a baby shower in the back room. If you’re rolling your eyes then you don’t know class.

We arrived at the scheduled meeting spot on time and ready for a ride. We hopped on bikes and followed our friendly guides, Jason and John, down the road to the first winery. I am happy to report that I never, not once, fell off the bike. I almost hit someone. But she didn’t even notice so it doesn’t count.

Wine casks at Pellegrini Vineyards

The first stop on our bike tour was Pellegrini Vineyards. I’d never visited a winery before (save for special events at Casa Larga Vineyards in upstate New York) and it was fascinating to tour the rows of vines, visit the giant casks that press and process grapes, and go down into a cool cellar where row upon row of barrels waits to produce the tasty wines we were lucky enough to sample. I’ve admitted here that I don’t know a whole heck of a lot about wine, but I do know Pellegrini served up a lovely chilled 2010 East End Select BBQ red that changed my mind about chilled red wines (aka loved.it.).

Vineyards at Pellegrini Vineyards

The next stop on our tour was Pugliese Vineyards. We tasted the wines here but didn’t tour the premises. At this point in the tour I think we were all too hungry to care about vines and grapes and casks and whatnot and North Fork Bike Tours served up a delicious selection of sandwiches from Love Lane Kitchen in Mattituck. I was wholly impressed by the spread: Cuban sandwiches, mozzarella with chicken, tomato, and pesto, steak sandwiches, chicken salad on fresh bread… and then tiny cupcakes to finish it off. As we lounged in the grass in the shade of a massive tree in front of a koi pond out in the “country”, I took a breath and relaxed into my alcohol-infused-calmness. A break from the city. Bliss. I picked up a bottle of a Pugliese Pinot Grigio to take back home with me, back to real life.

Our bike ride back to the original meeting place was only around 2 miles and it was incredibly peaceful just lazily drifting along the main road in Mattituck as the sun settled below the treeline. The sore butt bones I incurred the following day were well worth it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Travel

A Taste of Jamaica

Unless you live under a rock you’ve probably been watching the Olympics, or have at least heard about them on the news. There are only a handful of events I can sit through and enjoy (equestrian? yawwwwwwn) but I get seriously rowdy during track and field. How thrilling is it to watch the fastest men alive tear across a track and then not even breathe hard afterward? It inspires me to get my butt up off the couch…. and over to the kitchen for another slice of cake.

Guys, I’m not really an athlete, ok?

In watching Usain Bolt dominate every other competitor in the arena, I had a craving for Jamaican food. And only in New York can you think to yourself suddenly, “Man, I’d like some Jamaican food” and then walk 15 minutes to get some.

Well… you can probably do that in Jamaica, too. But… you get my drift.

Brown Stew Chicken with beans and rice and coleslaw

Jerk Pan 48th St. and Park Avenue, New York, NY. Jerk Pan is a food truck located in midtown Manhattan, just outside the JP Morgan-Chase building. It’s kind of amazing to see a run down old truck with five Jamaican men inside, slinging hot street food while 20 corporate yuppies stand in a line waiting for lunch to be served. But isn’t that New York? I think it is.

On the menu:
Brown Stew Chicken with rice and beans and coleslaw

Verdict: Hellooooo lunchtime! Did it take me 20 minutes in 90 degree heat to walk here? Yes. Was it entirely worth it? Yes. I only ate 1/4 of the food on a bench near where the truck is parked because it was pretty messy and I only had one measly napkin. But when I got back to my office? I really wanted to have it again for lunch the next day so I restrained myself as best I could but wow, wow, wow this was delicious. The coleslaw (which is basically just cabbage with corn, green beans, and carrots mixed in) is served hot. Have you ever had hot coleslaw? Well, try it. It is absolutely perfect. Tangy and crunchy, and not too shabby paired with the fall-off-the-bone chicken (covered in sweet and tangy brown sauce) and the chewy and mild rice and beans. The best part? The whole thing only cost me $8. That’s the price of a sad salad from Cosi for all you mathematicians out there. I also sampled the jerk chicken (I was afraid to order it myself in case it was super spicy) which was also tender and flavorful with a kick of spice and worth getting the next time. What I REALLY wanted to order was the jerk goat but the friend I lunched with quickly replied, “Goat… from a truck… in New York?” Good point.

This is my favorite clip of Usain Bolt and it has nothing to do with running:

1 Comment

Filed under New York Restaurants

The Late Night Cake: Part Deux


I would tell you how many cakes I’ve baked in the past month or so, but frankly I’m embarrassed. My penchant for cake is second to none. I’m the only girl at the wedding who cannot WAIT for the cake to be served. I’m thinking there must be a 12 step program I can join, right?

I had my sights set on vanilla cake this time and I looked to The Joy of Cooking to satisfy that need. I posted a recipe for vanilla cake before, but this one is a little bit different and just a tad bit lighter.

On the menu:
Vanilla cake with vanilla glaze
Adapted from The Joy of Cooking
Serves 12

3 1/2 cups cake flour (or regular flour sifted)
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups sugar (divided into: 1 2/3 and 1/3)
1 cup unsalted butter (softened to room temperature)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup milk (I used 2%)
8 egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

Grease and flour 2 9-inch round baking pans. Preheat oven to 375.

You’ll need 3 different sized bowls for this recipe. In the middle sized bowl: sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In the largest bowl: cream the butter with an electric mixer. Add 1 2/3 sugar and mix until combined.

In the smallest bowl: add milk and vanilla and whisk until combined.

In the largest bowl: while mixing, gradually add 1/3 of the flour mixture, then add 1/2 the milk mixture, then add 1/3 of the flour mixture, then add the remaining milk mixture, then add the remaining flour mixture until the batter is completely combined.

In the medium bowl: with CLEAN beaters, beat the egg whites and the cream of tartar until soft white peaks form. Add the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar and continue beating until the mixture is firm but not dry. Using a rubber spatula, fold the egg white mixture into the large bowl with the batter. Continue folding until the batter is uniform.

Pour half the batter in one pan and half the batter in the other pan. Bake for 25 minutes or until the cake springs back when gently pressed.

NOTE: this frosting should be called “Lauren’s Lazy Layer Cake Liquid” because it’s the same lame-o glaze I use for my chocolate cake, only I leave out the cocoa and add a tsp of vanilla and a few drops of red food coloring so it’s pink, not grayish brown from the vanilla. This is not, I repeat, this is not good frosting. It’s war time frosting. It’s what you use if you don’t want to wait the 7845023653478026523780 hours until your cake is cool and you just want to eat it right. now. Add some jimmies to spice it up.

Yes. Jimmies.

3 Comments

Filed under Recipes

Rosemary’s: A Restaurant Review

Small plates to start

My birthday dinner was the cause of much discussion. My parents were in town, so the place had to be vegetarian-friendly (it’s no fun eating out with a vegetarian who is forced to order the side salad at every meal), have a celebratory atmosphere, and not be so over-the-top expensive that I’d be apologizing for suggesting it for years to come. I took to NYMag.com for suggestions and found a really cool spot that had just opened: Rosemary’s. It’s rustic Italian food (always veg-friendly), they source a lot of their produce from their rooftop garden (enviro-friendly), and it JUST opened in a trendy neighborhood (savvy-food-writing-birthday-girl-friendly). Win. Win.

Rosemary’s 18 Greenwich Avenue (near West 10th St), New York, NY. Rosemary’s is located in the West Village, on a corner, and in the summer months all the windows and doors are open to give a truly open-air feel. The menu is divided into 10 sections and all wine is served by the bottle for $40 or by the glass for $10* (the menu is wine and beer only). It should be noted that Rosemary’s does NOT currently take reservations, so if you show up around dinner time you should be prepared to wait at least an hour for a table. My party put our names down and then went next door for a cocktail while we waited two hours for our table. It definitely did not mar our evening in the slightest, but we knew what we were in for ahead of time.

On the menu:
Small vegetable plates: cabbages, pecorino, chilies, and almonds; beets, dandelion, and hazelnuts; zucchini crudo
Small seafood plate: octopus with basil
Focacce: caprese (mozzarella, tomato, and basil)
Entree: pork tenderloin with mustard and fennel
Dessert: olive oil cake with fresh cream and blueberries

Verdict: Delicious! Was this the best meal I’ve ever had in New York? No. My mom ordered a mint pasta that was overwhelmingly flavored, the lamb my dad ordered was a bit flavorless, and then there’s that epic wait for a table. But this meal was just what I wanted for my birthday. The small plates were incredibly delicious: spicy, crunchy, brightly flavored, and gone in seconds. The pork tenderloin was juicy and tender and the cake was perfectly “dry” as only olive oil cake can be. Rosemary’s is still working out the kinks as far as service goes (we had a plethora of waitstaff taking care of us and the host was visibly frazzled at the crowds of people waiting to get in), and I was curious as to why they have a rooftop garden but no tables up there. But for all the little bits to work out (and I’m sure they will) Rosemary’s is definitely a spot to hit in the summer while the weather is fine.

*I love, love, love that all the wines are the same price. I don’t know wine very well and always want to ask for recommendations at restaurants, but I’m very aware that waitstaff will most often recommend a more expensive glass. The across-the-board pricing allowed me to give the sommelier my preferences and then have him give me an honest suggestion back. Well done, Rosemary’s. Also, sorry for the terrible photo. I didn’t want to be that annoying girl at the table taking brightly-lit-flash photos of every dish.

Leave a comment

Filed under New York Restaurants

Sesame Crusted Tuna

This meal is my idea of a pleasant surprise, meaning I had set aside an hour to cook dinner on Sunday and SURPRISE it took me 15 minutes. Also in my list of pleasant surprises: finding out my new sky-high heels are actually comfortable, and realizing I did not, in fact, drink all the wine in the house when I’m dying for a glass at 11am 5pm on a Saturday.

On the menu:
Sesame crusted tuna over arugula with ginger soy dressing
Serves 2

2 tuna steaks (around 1/2 pound each)
4 Tbsp sesame seeds
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 bunch of arugula (this is the bed if greens for your tuna so use as much as you like)

Dressing:
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp powdered ginger (or 1/4 tsp fresh ginger root, minced)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp water

With a paper towel, pat tuna steaks dry of any residual moisture. In a flat, shallow dish, pour sesame seeds in an even layer. Add salt and combine. Dredge tuna steaks in the sesame seeds so the steaks are coated on both broad sides AND the edges. In a medium sized skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Sear each steak for around 60 seconds on each side, including the edges (use tongs for this part). Remove from heat and let sit for 1 to 2 minutes before serving (yes, the inside will be raw and no, you won’t get sick from it).

Whisk all ingredients for dressing in a small bowl. Heat in microwave for 1 minute so the honey melts a bit. Whisk again. Plate arugula over 2 plates, pour half the dressing over the greens, plate the tuna on top of the greens, and then top with remaining dressing.

NOTE: This recipe takes about 15 minutes from start to finish, a tiny bit longer if you’re slow in mincing the ingredients for the dressing. The clean up is minimal, the presentation is impressive, and the leftovers (should you have any…) are divine. Eat it cold so you’re not the smelly office girl.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cooking, Recipes